Using a Cold List for Email Marketing to Investors


The truth is, you really can use email marketing to find investors and raise capital. You need to know the specific methodology and tools to use.

One of the biggest challenges with email marketing is acquiring the list of investor prospects to receive your emails. It is much frowned upon, but not illegal, to purchase or amass a cold list of names and start sending them emails. So, it seems you’re between a rock and a hard place. You want to market to investors. You need to acquire a list. However, you’re not supposed to purchase or use a cold database.

If you’re going to build a list of investors based on confirming their opt-in desire and status, it’s going to take you a long time. So how do you reach many investors quickly while at the same time not become an obnoxious spammer?

The answer is, don’t send emails to people who are not interested ‘all at once or often’!

At So-Mark Development, our social marketing approach helps emerging technology companies and startups raise capital. In my experience, it’s possible to send emails to a purchased or acquired list and still maintain well above a 20% open rate.

How do you do that?

Make sure the list you acquire contains people who would genuinely care about the subject matter of your email campaign. Don’t just send to a generic list of people who have no connection to your industry or message.

If you acquire a list, the first rule is not to send an email to everybody on that list at the same time. Break the file up into four or more segments. Then label the groups: A, B, C, and D.

To keep from ruining your email marketing reputation and your IP/domain sender score, only send to the first segment one time. Then immediately identify the people that engaged with your content and the people who didn’t. Move the people who did open and engage with your message to an “engaged” segment immediately. Then identify the rest of those people as non-engaged group A. The next time you send an email to the engaged list, you will not be sending an email to the non-engaged folks.

Gradually over time, keep sending emails each week to the engaged list and add the names from list B, then C, then D — ALWAYS ALONG WITH the engaged contacts. The people who do not open the email immediately, set aside. Most of your emailing activity should only focus on the engaged segment. Occasionally you can go back and send another email to the non-engaged portions but spread those out over a significant period to keep your open rates high.

People won’t get too upset if they get an email from you once or twice a year or once a quarter. Most people will opt-out if they’re not interested. Our overall complaint and opt-out rates have been exceedingly small using this approach.

By sending all of your emails to the engaged list every time, you can market to a cold database and still maintain high open rates. Then you can send to the non-engaged segments occasionally over time.

Using our marketing strategy, engaged list open rates range from 30 to 50%. Those are productive open rates, and they are coming directly from a cold, purchased, or an acquired list. It is indeed possible to conduct effective email marketing campaigns and support your brand awareness and venture capital goals.

This is obviously a niche marketing approach. Be thoughtful and careful by focusing on providing genuine value to interested people. The quality of the message and how it is designed within the email is also a critical factor. If the information you are sending out is genuinely educational and informative instead of solicitous, you are much less likely to receive complaints and opt-outs. Good content drives higher open rates and builds genuine interest.

In Summary: Tips for Successful Email Campaigns

If you are using a cold email list:

  1. Don’t send to the whole database all at once right out of the gate. Break the names into segments and design an email campaign to one group at a time.
  2. Immediately identify the engaged contacts. Then quickly, after one email, set aside the non-engaged emails.
  3. Send to the interested contacts every time. You will get a 30 to 50% open rate from this segment.
  4. Gradually, over time, add one non-engaged section, ALWAYS combined with the engaged group, giving those people a chance to opt-in while at the same time not spamming them obnoxiously.
  5. By combining the involved and non-engaged segments, the high open rates from the engaged portion will compensate for the low open rates from the non-engaged sectors.
  6. Never send emails to the non-engaged group by themselves.
  7. Make sure your content is genuinely interesting and valuable to this targeted audience. Do not send sale or solicitous pitches.


Using digital marketing to raise capital is not isolated to email campaigns. This article is the third in a series on this topic. To learn more, read:

Finding Investors Using Digital Marketing

Want to Attract Investors? Step One: Build your Online Presence


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